Pieper, Francis. Christian Dogmatics: Volume 1. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1968.
Chapter B10, “The Properties of Holy Scripture”
In this chapter Pieper sets out to explain four properties of Scripture, namely authority, efficacy, perfection, and perspicuity.
By authority we confess the Scripture deserves the same trust doe to God. It is only through the Scripture that we know God. We can receive faith in that authority of Scripture both because God creates it (Romans 10:17) and through our human reasoning. We can identify those who have saving faith primarily by their independent confession of God’s Word and the work of Christ.
By efficacy we mean that God’s Word actually accomplishes what it sets out to do - conviction of sin, creation of faith, and assurance of eternal life. It does this because of its nature as a divinely inspired book.
By perfection we mean sufficiency. The Bible tells us all we need for life and godliness. It does not reveal all natural or spiritual things, but it does tell us all we need for eternal life.
By perspicuity we mean the Bible can be understood clearly. The language is straightforward. All Christians can read and understand the Scripture. It is obscure only to those who do not know the language, who do not read it diligently, to those who are hostile or have unbelieving presuppositions.
Pieper illustrates many ways these four properties of Scripture can be understood or misunderstood. This chapter is particularly full of biblical references.
Chapter B11, “The Witness of History for Scripture”
Homologoumena and Antilegomena
In the earliest part of Christian history we have considerable support for both Jewish and Christian recognition of the Old Testament books (without the Apocrypha) and in the Christian tradition for most of the New Testament. Very early, as reported by Eusebius, the Christian community was unanimous in recognizing the Gospels, Acts, the thirteen Epistles of Paul, 1 Peter and 1 John. These books were classed as homologoumena - agreed upon by all. The remaining books, Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, James, Jude, and Revelation all had some areas of doubt. These were classified as antilegomena. This distinction largely remained until the Tridentine council, declaring all the homologoumena and antilegomena, along with the Apocrypha on equal footing. Chemnitz and others denounced this action as papal overthrow of historical scholarship. Pieper quotes Walther’s observations on the situation quite extensively.
The typical historic manner of dealing with the various books was to found doctrines on texts in the homologoumena, viewing the antilegomena through the lens, especially, of the canonical Gospels. All the books are recognized as inspired and authoritative but the antilegomena are not used to overturn ideas explicated in the homologoumena.